1 Corinthians in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS. Its authenticity is attested by Clement of Rome (Ep., c. 47), Polycarp (Ep. to Philipp., c. 11), Ignatius (ad Eph., 2), and Irenaeus (Adv. Haer., 4:27, section 3). Its occasion and subject. Paul had been instrumental in converting many Gentiles (1 Corinthians 12:2) and some Jews (Acts 18:8), notwithstanding the Jews' opposition (Acts 18:5-6), during his one year and a half sojourn. The converts were mostly of the humbler classes (1 Corinthians 1:26). Crispus, Erastus, and Gaius (Caius), however, were men of rank (1 Corinthians 1:14; Acts 18:8; Romans 16:23). 1 Corinthians 11:22 implies a variety of classes. The immoralities abounding outside at Corinth, and the craving even within the church for Greek philosophy and rhetoric which Apollos' eloquent style gratified, rather than for the simple preaching of Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1, etc.; Acts 18:24, etc.), as also the opposition of Judaizing teachers who boasted of having "letters of commendation" from Jerusalem the metropolis of the faith, caused the apostle anxiety. The Judaizers depreciated his apostolic authority (1 Corinthians 9:1-2; 2 Corinthians 10:1; 2 Corinthians 10:7- 8), professing, some to be the followers of the chief apostle, Cephas; others to belong to Christ Himself, rejecting all subordinate teaching (1 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 10:7). Some gave themselves out to be apostles (2 Corinthians 11:5; 2 Corinthians 11:13), alleging that Paul was not of the twelve nor an eye-witness of the gospel facts, and did not dare to prove his apostleship by claiming support from the church (1 Corinthians 9). Even those who declared themselves Paul's followers did so in a party spirit, glorying in the minister instead of in Christ. Apollos' followers also rested too much on his Alexandrian rhetoric, to the disparagement of Paul, who studied simplicity lest aught should interpose between the Corinthians and the Spirit's demonstration of the Savior (1 Corinthians 2). Epicurean self-indulgence led some to deny the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:32). Hence, they connived at the incest of one of them with his stepmother (1 Corinthians 5). The elders of the church had written to consult Paul on minor points: (1) meats offered to idols; (2) celibacy and marriage; (3) the proper use of spiritual gifts in public worship; (4) the collection for the saints at Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1, etc.). But they never told him about the serious evils, which came to his ears only through some of the household of Chloe (1 Corinthians 1:11), contentions, divisions, lawsuits brought before pagan courts by Christian brethren against brethren (1 Corinthians 6:1). Moreover, some abused spiritual gifts to display and fanaticism (1 Corinthians 14); simultaneous ministrations interrupted the seemly order of public worship; women spoke unveiled, in violation of eastern usage, and usurped the office of men; even the Holy Communion was desecrated by reveling (1 Corinthians 11). These then formed topics of his epistle, and occasioned his sending Timothy to them after his journey to Macedonia (1 Corinthians 4:17). In 1 Corinthians 4:18; 1 Corinthians 5:9, he implies that he had sent a previous letter to them; probably enjoining also a contribution for the poor saints at Jerusalem. Upon their asking directions as to the mode, he now replies (1 Corinthians 16:2). In it he also announced his design of visiting them on his way to and from Macedon (2 Corinthians 1:15-16), which design he changed on hearing the unfavorable report from Chloe's household (1 Corinthians 16:5-7), for which he was charged with fickleness (2 Corinthians 1:15-17). Alford remarks, Paul in 1 Corinthians alludes to the fornication only in a summary way, as if replying to an excuse set up after his rebuke, rather than introducing it for the first time. Before this former letter, he paid a second visit (probably during his three years' sojourn at Ephesus, from which he could pass readily by sea to Corinth Acts 19:10; Acts 20:31); for in 2 Corinthians 12:14; 2 Corinthians 13:1, he declares his intention to pay a third visit. In 1 Corinthians 13:2 translated "I have already said (at my second visit), and declare now beforehand, as (I did) when I was present the second time, so also (I declare) now in my absence to them who have heretofore sinned (namely, before my second visit, 1 Corinthians 12:21) and to all others" (who have sinned since it, or are in danger of sinning). "I write," the Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus manuscripts rightly omit; KJV "as if I were present the second time," namely, this time, is inconsistent with verse 1, "this is the third time I am coming" (compare 2 Corinthians 1:15-16). The second visit was a painful one, owing to the misconduct of many of his converts (2 Corinthians 2:1). Then followed his letter before the 1 Corinthians, charging them "not to company with fornicators." In 1 Corinthians 5:9-12 he corrects their misapprehensions of that injunction. The Acts omits that second visit, as it omits other incidents of Paul's life, e.g. his visit to Arabia (Galatians 1:17-28). The place of writing was Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8). The English subscription "from Philippi" arose from mistranslating 1 Corinthians 16:5, "I am passing through Macedonia;" he intended (1 Corinthians 16:8) leaving Ephesus after Pentecost that year. He left it about A.D. 57 (Acts 19:21). The Passover imagery makes it likely the date was Easter time (1 Corinthians 5:7), A.D. 57. Just before his conflict with the beastlike mob of Ephesus, 1 Corinthians 15:32 implies that already he had premonitory symptoms; the storm was gathering, his "adversaries many" (1 Corinthians 16:9; Romans 16:4). The tumult (Acts 19:29-30) had not yet taken place, for immediately after it he left Ephesus for Macedon. Sosthenes, the ruler of the Jews' synagogue, after being beaten, seems to have been won by Paul's love to an adversary in affliction (Acts 18:12-17). Converted, like Crispus his predecessor in office, he is joined with Paul in the inscription, as "our brother." A marvelous triumph of Christian love! Paul's persecutor paid in his own coin by the Greeks, before Gallio's eyes, and then subdued to Christ by the love of him whom he sought to persecute. Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, were probably the bearers of the epistle (1 Corinthians 16:17-18); see the subscription...

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